Editor’s note: The following story is part of the annual Top Private Companies report featured in the March 10 CityBusiness.

Photo courtesy DespositPhotos

It’s often said that when things go wrong, they tend to go wrong all at once. In the last quarter of 2022, that adage certainly rang true for local real estate companies who faced a sudden reversal in the market.

The COVID-19 lockdown led to a wave of home improvement projects and a bonanza of home sales as people realized they wanted more from their homes. That wave of sales suddenly crashed in 2022, as the Federal Reserve began to raise interest rates to curb inflation. And at the same time, the state’s insurance market collapsed.

Despite those challenges, local real estate brokerage firms were able to limit the late year damages and still pull off a strong year, to some extent, according to Rory Blossman, chief financial officer at Latter & Blum.

“We had a great year, overall,” Blossman said. “We closed $6.4 billion in sales and 23,000 units across our footprint, which is south Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. We had a very strong year overall. We were down a little bit compared to 2021, but 2021 was just like a record year.”

Latter & Blum saw sales revenue of $137.9 million in 2021. That dropped by about five and a half percent, to $130.2 million, in 2022. Similarly, Gulf States Real Estate Services LLC, dropped just over eight percent year-over-year, from $1.66 million in ‘21 to $1.53 million in ‘22.

“Starting the summer of ‘20, including all of ‘21 and most of ‘22, the market was crazy,” Blossman said. “In Q3 of ‘22, things started to slow down a little bit, but it was a great year overall.”

And while sales revenue were down in ‘22, commercial sales were up, Blossman said.

“Commercial had a great year,” he said. “Our volume was up 30 percent compared to ‘21. That helped insulate us a little bit against residential softening.”

That diversification, combined with a vast area of coverage, allowed for a very steady year overall, Blossman said. When sales in New Orleans faltered toward the end of the year, sales in Baton Rouge strengthened.

Blossman said quality of life issues began to become a factor toward the end of ‘22 in Orleans Parish as crime soared. While those issues aren’t likely to be resolved soon, Blossman said things like the dearth of insurance carriers and higher than average interest rates should balance out as this year progresses.

“2023 is a bit of a question mark,” he said. “We’re watching the trends, and I’m not sure how things are going to progress if these things don’t change a bit, but we’re hopeful it will be a strong year too.”

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